SCA’s Morning Read for Feb. 4, 2014

SCA in the News Morning Read
House panel OKs bill by social conservatives (Mohave Valley Daily News)
An Arizona House panel on Tuesday approved changes to a proposed law beefing up protections for businesses that assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays and others, but the changes didn’t placate critics who call the bill a way to allow discrimination.  “This leaves the door open to all sorts of crazy religious practices,” said John Shelton, with the Secular coalition for Arizona.

Atheism, Movement & Related 
VIDEO: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham On Creationism (Huffington Post)
America’s favorite “Science Guy,” Emmy Award-winning science educator and Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye, is set to debate Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis and president of the Creation Museum, at the museum in Kentucky on Feb. 4.

Atheist, Humanist, Secular: Why Fight Over Labels? (Huffington Post)
No matter how you look at it, the nontheist movement in the U.S. is experiencing momentous growth. According to a Harris poll, those who profess no belief in a god is at the highest percentage ever recorded. Atheism as an identity is also becoming more mainstream and even politically acceptable, as seen by the fact that most Americans would now vote for an atheist running for president (something that would not have been possible even a few years ago).

World 
UN Report Denounces Vatican For Sex Abuse And Stands On Contraception, Abortion And Homosexuality (Huffington Post)
A U.N. human rights committee denounced the Vatican on Wednesday for adopting policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, and urged it to open its files on the pedophiles and the churchmen who concealed their crimes.

Religion
Monsignor Edward J. Arsenault Will Go To Jail After Guilty Plea Deal For Fraud Charges In New Hampshire (Huffington Post)
A priest who headed a leading treatment center for clergy with sexual and addiction problems has agreed to plead guilty to charges of stealing money from his home diocese in New Hampshire and from a Catholic hospital and the estate of a deceased priest.

Mormon Church Claims DNA Studies Can’t Affirm or Reject Book of Mormon (Religion Dispatches)
Last week The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted yet another undated, unsigned document on its official website, this one on the topic of “Book of Mormon and DNA Studies.” The essay addresses issues raised by the fact that there is little to no DNA evidence supporting the Mormon claim that the indigenous people of the Americas are the descendants of Hebrews who left Jerusalem around 600 BCE. This belief was so ingrained that for a very long time, Mormons referred to Native Americans as “Lamanites,” a name that also refers to a people in the Book of Mormon.

Entrusted to Burn John Paul II’s Notes, Cardinal Publishes Them Instead (New York Times)
Defying a pope’s explicit instructions is not a widespread habit among Roman Catholic cardinals, especially when the pope in question is immensely popular, on the verge of sainthood and no longer able to object. So the decision by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz to publish a book of Pope John Paul II’s personal notes, even though the pope’s last will and testament requested that he burn them, has attracted no small helping of controversy and moral indignation.

States
A glance at bills in the Mississippi Legislature (WOKV)
RELIGIOUS PRACTICE — Senate Bill 2681 says government may not burden a person’s right to practice religion. It also would add “In God We Trust” to the state seal. It passed the Senate on Jan. 31 and moves to a House committee.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t march in St. Patrick’s Day parade (RNS)
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t march past St. Patrick’s Cathedral and on down Fifth Avenue in the city’s famed St. Patrick’s Day parade because he opposes organizers’ ban on marchers’ gay pride signs.

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